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BookLust: Jane Eyre October 7, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust, Life List.
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Jane: Just Plain Wonderful

Jane: Just Plain Wonderful

When Jane Eyre popped up on my Victorian Novel syllabus, I had two immediate reactions:  a) it is on the BBC 100 list I’m working on and b) ugh.  I’d like to say that I had no expectations when I began the book, but that would be a lie.  I seriously thought it would be awful.  No, I mean, a “pulling teeth” kind of terrible.  Many of my friends had been forced to read the book in high school, and when I asked them about it, they stared off into the distance like a Vietnam vet and told their horror stories.  My hopes?  Not high, to say the least.
However, dear readers:  I.  Loved.  It.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Jane.  She was saucy and strong-willed without being one of those characters that just has to make life difficult for herself.  Her charm is subtle but present; it’s easy to like Jane, which makes it easy to like Jane’s story.  The book is written in first person, so as the reader you walk in Jane’s shoes.  I can’t say what this would be like as a male reader, but as a girl it was just so natural to follow through with Jane’s narrative.
And a narrative it is.  For a book that’s just shy of 600 pages, Jane Eyre was a book I couldn’t put down.  Unlike Les Miserables, there are no random, boring interludes.  Bronte sticks to what she knows–Jane–and adeptly skips chunks of time to keep the story engaging and relevant.  In addition, Bronte paints gorgeous, Gothic pictures of the English countryside as Jane moves from Gateshead to Rochester’s estate.
All said, Jane Eyre is still a sweeping romance (despite its fascinating commentary on the position of women).  Rochester is a poor substitute for the Mr. Darcy I wanted this narrative to have.  As a reader, I didn’t like him one whit.  As a reader walking in Jane’s shoes, her love for him was totally understandable.  For me, Rochester was one hiccup in the plot.  The best way to describe him is “House-ian”: he does just enough to make you like him but is pretty much detestable through the rest of the narrative.  Let me just say, he gets exactly what he deserves at the end.
There’s so much to say about the book, but I think I’m going to leave it there.  It’s delightful but not for everyone, and if you’re looking for another Austen-esque jaunty romance, this isn’t it.  Regardless, there is certainly a reason that Jane Eyre remains on syllabi everywhere.
5 out of 5 stars (a winter month classic)
P.S:  I have no idea what’s up with the paragraph spacing.  I can’t seem to fix it.  Sad day.
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Comments»

1. lindseybunny - October 8, 2009

Dude. I could swear I’ve told you to read this. I loved loved loved that book. The movies aren’t too terrible if you feel the need.

I feel like Rochester, well, you can’t expect him to be amazing. This isn’t Disney. He would have married someone from his own class if his past wasn’t all screwy and he wasn’t all weird.

I’m so glad you enjoyed this! Let me know if there are any good ones coming up. I’ll totally be your reading buddy.

dorianagraye - October 11, 2009

You so haven’t told me to read this (or if you did, I completely forgot. I guess this is more likely).

I agree, Rochester would not have worked as well had he been Darcy, but I had a hard time liking him at all. It’s like he did a nice thing and then spent 4 chapters being an irreconcilable jerk. I have to say, I thought he got exactly what he deserved at the end of the story. He was just…ugh. Unlikable.

I’ll have to send you my reading lists. We’re reading A Tale of Two Cities next. Have you read it?

2. Lindsey - October 11, 2009

I made it a page into that bad boy when boredom hit. I have yet to read Dickens.

dorianagraye - October 22, 2009

Try Great Expectations. I love that book–it’s hilarious.


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